The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Fuel Reserves Increased Ahead of Kenya Polls

Photo: Caroline Mwakio/Allafrica
Government to waiver port charges for the East African states arising from delays in clearance at the Mombasa Port over an election dispute (file photo).

The government has increased fuel reserves that can last over one and ahalf months ahead of the upcoming Kenyan elections, Francois Kanimba, Trade and Industry minister has said.

Kenya, which also serves as the main route for most of landlocked countries in East Africa, including Rwanda, is set to go for general elections on March 4.

Some countries have already shown fears of potential import interuption in case violence mars the elections just like it did in 2007.

According to analysts, if violence occurs, then petroleum products could be scarce, leading to high prices and shortages which will negatively impact the region.

But Minister Kanimba assured Rwandans that the country's fuel reserves are currently filled with about 29 million litres that can sustain the country for a month and a half.

"We want to assure all Rwandans that they should not be afraid of potential fuel shortage," the minister said.

He, however, mentioned that though 50 per cent of Rwandan imports come through Mombasa port, it was not the case with the fuel, noting that 94 per cent of imported fuel enters through Dar-es-Salaam port in Tanzania.

For other imports, Kanimba siad government hopes there is no outbreak of violence in the region's powerhouse.

Pessimistic

"Other imports come through the Mombasa port and if there is violence, we have nothing much we can do," he said.

Rwanda mainly relies on the Northern Corridor, that also serves other countries like Uganda, (Northern) Tanzania, DR Congo and South Sudan, which highlights Kenya's significance in regional trade.

Petroleum products sold at the Rwandan market include white fuels (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, various industrial & auto lubricants, etc.); black fuels (bitumen, black oil, etc.) and other petroleum products such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

The outgoing Kenyan High Commissioner to Rwanda, Makena Muchiri, recently said in an interview that though the country experienced violence after the 2007 presidential elections this time, the elections, will be peaceful.

"We want to assure all the people that there is nothing to worry about since the government has put in place different measures to ensure that the elections are free and fair." "The business community should carry on with their work and they should not expect any trouble."

The 2007 post election violence left 1,200 people dead and 600,000 more displaced in weeks of unrest. The violence began after clashes between supporters of then rival presidential candidates - Raila Odinga, the current Prime Minister, and Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent.

During the fighting a dozen Rwandan and Ugandan traders lost their goods worth $47.5 million and up to now they're still awaiting compensation despite Kibaki's order to reimburse them.

On the compensation, minister Kanimba said he did not have any updates.

President Kibaki, who has led the country since 2002, will step down after the March 4, general election.

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